Conference Coverage

Semaglutide boosts weight loss following endoscopic gastroplasty


Combining minimally invasive endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty with a weekly injection of the glucagonlike peptide–1 agonist semaglutide (Ozempic, Novo Nordisk) leads to significantly greater weight loss than ESG alone in patients with diabetes and excess weight who are not candidates for bariatric surgery, new research shows.

During minimally invasive ESG, a flexible endoscope equipped with an endoscopic suturing device is inserted down the esophagus and into the stomach. The endoscopist then applies the sutures to the upper portion of the stomach, minimizing its size to restrict the amount of food a patient can ingest.

“Our stomachs can stretch back a bit, but we can use the suturing device again,” explained the lead investigator of the research Anna Carolina Hoff, MD, founder and clinical director of Angioskope Brazil in São José dos Campos.

“It’s important that patients with diabetes lose as much weight as possible because, if they lose about 10% of their total body weight, they have a great improvement in their glycemic levels, and some patients can even stop taking their [antidiabetic] medications,” Dr. Hoff said in an interview.

“And we found that by adding the GLP-1 agonist [semaglutide], we could increase weight loss from, on average, about 16%-18% of total body weight with ESG alone to up to 27%, so it’s a great metabolic combination,” she noted.

Dr. Hoff presented the findings at the annual Digestive Disease Week® (DDW).

Asked to comment, Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director, National Center for Weight and Wellness, George Washington University, Washington, cautioned that it’s still early days for minimally invasive ESG.

“It is reasonable to assume that the long-term outcomes [with ESG] won’t be as good or durable over time as with bariatric surgery, but ... we will have to see.”

However, “we know that, typically, combinations of therapeutic options work better than a one-off option, so I think the real benefit of this study – outside the specific procedure and this specific medication – is that it is a very valuable proof-of-principle study showing that combinations do work better,” Dr. Kahan said in an interview.

Minimally invasive endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

ESG is a surrogate for laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy that can offer the benefits of such a procedure to those who don’t qualify for, or don’t wish to pursue, bariatric surgery. It can be performed at an earlier stage of disease, in those with a body mass index of 30 mg/kg2, whereas generally people are not offered bariatric procedures unless they have a BMI of at least 35 with comorbidities or a BMI of at least 40 if they do not have comorbidities.

Subcutaneous semaglutide is already approved for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in adults at doses of up to 1 mg/week; higher doses are needed for weight loss. Novo Nordisk has been investigating higher doses for weight loss in the STEP trial program, which is now complete, and the company has submitted the data to the Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency for an additional indication of adults with obesity (BMI ≥30) or who are overweight (BMI ≥27) and who have at least one weight-related comorbidity, as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, with a decision expected soon.

Novo Nordisk has also developed an oral form of semaglutide, which has been approved as a once-daily agent for type 2 diabetes (Rybelsus) in doses of 7 mg and 14 mg to improve glycemic control along with diet and exercise. It is the first GLP-1 agonist available in tablet form.


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